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By Michael Schaffner

Throughout my career as an umpire, I have been greeted with both great anticipation and doubt. When I took this job, I knew that I would go through some difficult bumps with coaches, parents, and even the children taking the game too seriously. With people acting like it’s the major leagues and your call will b the biggest mistake of your life, it can feel like everyone is on your back, and saying that you’re wrong or blind; there’s bound to be trouble. This job seems to only have negative thoughts and may lead to stressful lives, but this is just the stereotype. My purpose here is to show you the true perspective of a teenage umpire and why on Earth a high school student may perform this task when he already has too much on his plate from school and from his social live. It occurs to people that becoming an umpire is just another way of saying,“ I’m insane!” What doesn’t occur to them is why we decide to take the risk and go out on the field. Let me tell you how I became interested with umpiring. When I was playing in the Bronco Division (a 2-year division for kids

Michael Schaffner, 5-year umpire and author

ages 11-13), I was chosen by my coach, Ken Law, to be a captain for the team. He told me personally that I was a good supporter and if he were to administer a test of the rules, I would receive the highest score. Over the season, I thought about what he said. I realized that my curiosity for the rules was the driving force. Also, during the season, I noticed the umpires were teenagers. Right there, I knew that I could be an umpire and I could gain more knowledge of the rules. So, when the opportunity came to sign up and become an umpire, I naturally went for it.

I also decided to do this because of the love for the game. I knew for a long time that I loved baseball. The question about it was, “How much?” I realized how much after umpiring behind the plate for a Mustang Division game (another division for kids of ages 8-10). It was in the 5th inning with the Pirates leading the Cubs by nine runs, one less than what was required for an automatic forfeit. With games in the division only lasting for 6 innings, it looked as if the game was over. The Cubs, all of a sudden, presented a different set of gloves and bats. They were performing plays that were above what was expected. They sent the ball in flight when they were swinging. It all came down to the final out with the score tied and a man on first. The batter swung and hit a line drive down straight towards the center fielder. He bobbled with the ball until it landed on the ground. The runner from first was rounding third. The fielder picked it up and threw it past the cut-off man, an in-fielder who is supposed to receive the ball, and straight into the catcher’s mitt. The play was in action. As the runner slid into home, the catcher tried to tag the runner out, but the ball came out of his glove and traveled into the backboard. With no sign of

obstructive, I declared the runner safe. The Cubs won the game. When I’m umpiring, I don’t care about who wins or loses, all I want from my experiences was to get the sense of action. This game didn’t bring a short supply.

Brian Huwe, a fellow colleague of mine. This will be his fifth year the umpire roster of LA-MV Pony Baseball. “Well, when I was younger, starting my [sixth] year of baseball, there were sign ups for umpires, and I figured I liked baseball, or at the time I really loved baseball, and I figured I might as well be an umpire not to mention that making money couldn’t hurt.”

My boss, Andrew Palay, here seen as a teacher for future umpires. Has been the chief umpire for LA-MV for nine years. “Mostly I just try to enjoy the game. The interesting thing about being an umpire is you actually get to start to enjoying baseball games without having to worry about who wins or loses. So, when I go to baseball games, like if I go to the Giants, the same thing happens. You start, sort of, watching the game and enjoying the game for the game sake.”

“There is a certain level of acting of being an umpire. Any umpire who tells you that they make all the calls correct isn’t telling the truth. Any umpire who says that you know exactly what has happened is not telling the truth. There are plays that occur that are amazingly close and you actually have no clue whether or not the guy is out or safe and you still have to call it. The key in there is acting in a way that gets everybody to believe that you know exactly what happened, even if you have absolutely no clue.” -Andrew Palay

Before the start of the season, you need to prepare yourself with very important equipment.

The Hat.

The Shirt.

Of course, you need the shingaurds, chest pad and mask, but in LA-MV, those things are supplied in the shed at the fields.

The Counter (a.k.a. the clicker).

It’s also a good idea to review the rules of the game. For the rookies of the umpire staff, it is required to attend an eight week course, where they learn how to be an effective umpire. The current teacher for these classes is Andrew Palay. The classes held from the end of Janurary to the end of March and are located at Oak Elementary School.

A few rookies listening to Andrew talking about the infield fly rule.

In the last week, classes are taken outside for training in action, meaning physically know where they have to be during a game.


Umpire in “pre”action.



When I umpire, I relaxed and not only concentrate on the game’s events, but I also get the chance to feel the atomosphere. Every field has its own identity. When you see the grass cut short, you watch the batter having fun hit long ground balls. If the mound is high, the pitchers take the opportunity to improve their pitching capabilities. If there is one thing I would have to say about the variability of fields in LAMV Pony is there are more of them then what people see. In respective order, they are the Mustang 2 Oak, Bronco Oak, Bronco Blach, Mustang 1 Huff and Mustang 1 & 2 Loyola Field.




The Blue Jays vs. The Yankees



“If I would to plant one phrase in [an umpire’s] head before they had to walk out on the field is to be louder.” - Andrew Palay



The Parents, siblings or fans of Pony watch a good game.



The Pirates vs. The Indians 22

Blach field is special. It is used by Blach school for the softball team duing the winter, so it needs a portable green mound so the pitchers have a high advantage.



The 2-2 count.....

... and the batter hits it for a triple.


Mustang 1 game, The Giants vs. The White Sox



Mustang 2 game, The Cubs vs. The Tigers


In the end of it all, the umpires of LAMV Pony just have fun.



to all the umpires of this league for their dedication and true character with handling with small children with big dreams. Grant Appelgren Colin Bengle Max Colehower Jacod Daricek Ian Douglas Shelby Douglas Nadiv Geiger Jeremy Gomberg Alex Hernandez Chris Hewitt Daniel Hoffman Brian Huwe Paul Kehoe Ryan Kelly Nicholas Koukoutsakis Nick McCue Skip Mueller Eric Olson Andy Palay Lincoln Race Matt Rinehart Stuart Scott Mark Sinclair Mat Snider Stephen Soward Roger Strom Jason Strowbridge Jay Van Syoc


Adam Bush Con Dempsey Luke DeVogelaere Sean Edgecombe Alex Farmer Carl Gutekunst Mithchell Harrington Johnny Hidalgo Richard Hidalgo Blake Jarvis Shaan Kamal Drew Knochenhauer Mike Lawler Alex Medin Alex Nahinu Connor Nunley Jason Panganiban Akhil Patel Steven Ruocco Robert Scott Corey Smith Mat Snider Jr. Derek Stephens A.J. Strom Colby Taylor Michael Topol

“In the umpiring profession, we often say that an umpire has done his job well when no one knows he’s there.” - Tom Leppard Director, Umpire Administration


Michael Schaffner  

L e a g u e L o s A l By MichaelSchaffner MichaelSchaffner,5-yearumpireandauthor obstructive,Ideclaredtherunnersafe.The...

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